Johnny Gets Saved – Part 3

Soon the meal was over, the tables were being cleaned up and people started moving off toward other activities. Stanley raced over to Johnny and said, “Can we go fishing now Johnny? Can we go now?”

“Let’s go ask your Dad, Stanley. We want to make sure that we have his permission and that he knows where you are”, replied Johnny. “OK!” said Stanley and off he ran to where his father and mother were standing talking to another couple.

Johnny arrived in time to hear Pastor Johnson reply to his son, “Sure Stanley I just want to talk to Johnny for a minute to make sure that I know where you will be.”

“Hi Pastor” Johnny said as he approached the small group of people. “We’ll be right over by the river where that big flat rock is right under those two tall trees.” Johnny pointed over toward the river where the rock was. “You should be able to see us the whole time. There is a little hole right in front of that rock where the fish like to hang out. It’s real good for fishing.” Johnny continued.

“That sounds great!” replied the Pastor Johnson, “would you mind if Susie came with you? She likes to keep an eye on her little brother.”

“Sure pastor, I brought enough stuff for her anyway, because I…well…I…thought that she might want to.” Johnny replied with a big smile.

“That sounds like fun!” came Susie’s voice from behind Johnny. Susie had been close by and overheard the conversation with some enthusiasm. “Thanks, Dad!” She said. “Well then, why don’t you kids run off and catch us a whole ‘mess ‘o’ fish’” laughed the pastor. “And don’t anyone fall in. That water is cold and it moves pretty fast away from the little hole Johnny is talking about. Oh, and have a good time kids!!”

Johnny and Susie and Stanley all headed over toward the big rock where Johnny and Susie had stashed all of Johnny’s gear before lunch. Before long they were all set up on top of the big rock and waiting for a big bite. Johnny was casting for Stanley and then handing him the pole to reel in across the little pond in the eddy of the river underneath the rock. There was lots of filtered sunlight. The air was warm but it felt a lot cooler near the river. Johnny was talking to Stanley constantly giving him fishing tips like how slowly to reel in so that the fish thought the bait was alive, what to do to set the hook if he got a bite and stuff like that. Each time that Stanley reeled his line back in, Johnny would cast it out for him again. Stanley kept asking if he could do it himself, but Johnny said that he could do that the next time they went fishing and there weren’t so many people around. He didn’t want anyone to accidentally get hooked. Stanley didn’t think that he would hook anyone, but went along with Johnny so that he would continue to teach him.

Susie kept a close eye on the two boys and put in her own two cents on occasion just so that she wasn’t left out of the conversation. Johnny also kept an eye on Susie. He felt responsible for her since he was the ‘man’ of the group.

Everyone was having a good time…until…

Stanley had reeled in his line for the 15th time and was waiting for Johnny to cast it out for him again. Johnny was busy helping Susie with a snag in her line when Stanley started feeling like he was being treated like the baby of the group and decided to cast his line out himself.

He had been watching Johnny closely, and mimicked his actions very closely. He reeled his line all the way in. He stepped back a step. He moved the rod over his head behind him and put his finger on the button of the reel. He then took two steps forward moving the reel quickly over his head in the direction of the water and pushed the button on the reel to release the line and let it fly out over the water. All of that worked well except that he was not watching where his feet were going and he was launched out over the water along with his pole.

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Johnny Gets Saved – Part 2

Saturday came quickly and the weather was perfect for a picnic. The park was crowded with families and groups enjoying the cooler mountain air and the green of the trees. The smell of charcoal was in the air and the shouts of groups of people playing volleyball, softball and Frisbee could be heard all around. The Johnson’s were already there when Johnny and his parents arrived. Johnny had all of his fishing gear. Actually he had brought more gear than he could carry because he not only brought his own and some for Stanley but also enough for Susie as well. He wanted to find out more about what made her different.

The church had reserved the site closest to the creek so Johnny headed straight for the big rock that hung out over the fishing hole. He was dropping something about every 4th or 5th step and had to stop to pick it up. This usually caused him to drop something else and then he would walk another 4 or 5 steps, drop something else and then have to stop to pick it up and then as he bent over to pick that up, something else would fall out of his overstuffed arms and it would all begin again.

Susie saw Johnny coming and watched this routine a couple of times before she decided that Johnny really needed some help. She was laughing to herself as she was trotting over to help him with his load and shouted out to him. “Would you like some help with all of that stuff Johnny?” Johnny looked her direction and then something else slipped from his grip. He smiled and said, “I guess I do after all. I thought that I could carry all of this, but, I think that I tried to carry a little too much at once. Thanks, Susie!”

After they got all of the gear stashed next to the big rock, they went over to where the picnic tables were and sat with the rest of the kids from the church. Susie’s father asked everyone to be quiet to that they could thank the Lord for the food. Things quieted down right away and heads bowed in prayer.

Pastor Tom spoke with a reverent voice, “Lord, here we are. Your people gathered in your name to rejoice in your blessings as your church. We thank you Lord for the blessing of each other. We thank you for this glorious day to be outside together enjoying each other. I want to thank you especially for my wife’s fried chicken. I have been waiting all week to eat that. (There was a wave of subdued giggling and muffled laughter followed by a playfully stern ‘Tom!’ from the pastor’s wife.) Ahem! Most of all Lord, I want to thank you for your Son, Jesus. It is His life among us that allows us to have the marvelous fellowship that we enjoy. It was His sacrifice on that cross on that hill long ago that has given us new life. Lord I pray that, if there are any among us that do not know you, they will see clearly today what they are missing out on. This fun and fellowship is just a slight taste of what heaven will be like and I am sure that no one wants to miss out on that. Amen! Let’s eat!! Pass the chicken, please!”

Now, it hadn’t been much of a sermon as sermons go, but it hit Johnny right were he had been thinking. Just before the prayer he was thinking that this sure was what he would like heaven to be like. And then he thought about the fact that he had never really asked Jesus to be his Saviour. He knew that he ought to, but, he also thought that the kids would make fun of him at school and he wanted to fit in there really badly. He also thought that since most of the kids in church already thought that he was saved, he would look pretty silly. In spite of all of that, Johnny wanted to have what these people had. He wanted it very badly. He was just afraid.

Susie happened to notice the look of sadness on Johnny’s face before the prayer and took the time to pray especially for him. She also determined to talk to him later when they could be alone.

Johnny watched people talking excitedly while they ate. They talked, they laughed, they were having more fun than he could remember seeing people have.

 

Another story to share – Johnny Gets Saved

The next story in the original New Susie series. I hope you enjoy it. It is written in an older style that is reminiscent of the original Susie and Johnny stories.

New Susie Series #2 – Johnny Gets Wet and Saved

By: S.C. Mathisen

“Sure, I can show you how to fish Stanley! Why, I’ve been fishing just about my whole life! It’s nearly the most fun a guy can have!” Johnny boasted standing up as tall as he could, but still looking almost rounder than he was tall. Susie, Stanley’s older sister tried not to laugh. Susie was just about Johnny’s age. Stanley was several years younger and looked up to Johnny like he was an older brother.

“Wow!” said Stanley. He turned and looked up at Susie and said “Do you think that will be OK with Dad, Susie?” Susie and Stanley’s father was Pastor Tom Johnson of the small but energetic Grace Neighborhood Church in Crescent City.

“Oh, I’m pretty sure it will, Stanley. After all we’re going to hold the church picnic at Daley Creek Park in the mountains and it has a really nice river running right next to the picnic area”, Susie said cheerfully.

“Oh Boy!!” said Stanley while jumping up and down excitedly, “I’m gonna catch the biggest fish you ever saw!”

“That’s right! I’ll bet you will, Stanley!” Johnny said while still trying to be taller than he was, “I’ve got all the gear we’ll need and there is a great fishing hole right there next to the picnic area. It has a big flat rock that we can stand on to fish from too, so we don’t get all wet.”

“Wow! Wow!” said Stanley starting to run around in circles excitedly as he ran over to the playground and onto the monkey bars.

Johnny and his family had only recently begun attending Grace Neighborhood Church after  moving to Crescent City from a small town in the Midwest about six months earlier when his father had taken a new job. They were very active in church activities and Susie and Johnny were starting to become good friends because they went to the same school, were in the same grade and both were involved at the church.

Susie was more than a little concerned about Johnny because he didn’t seem as interested in prayer and scripture memorization as she was. Also, He had never declared to the kids at school that he was a Christian. He seemed more interested in playing sports. He seemed to know all the right things to say, but she wasn’t sure that had ever really taken Jesus as his saviour. She was keeping a close eye on Johnny and was waiting for an opportunity to talk it over with him.

Susie looked at her watch and shouted over to the playground, “Stanley, it’s time to get home for supper. We don’t want to be late. Mom is making your favorite dinner, meatloaf.” “Oh boy, I nearly forgot”, Stanley exclaimed loudly as he jumped down from the monkey bars and headed toward home.

“See you on Saturday, Johnny” he shouted as he raced away.

Susie looked at Johnny who had now returned to his former height. “I’ll see you on Saturday too Johnny, thank you for offering to teach Stanley how to fish. Dad has been pretty busy lately with his duties at the church and hasn’t had time this summer to do the things with Stanley that he would like. It’s very kind of you.”

Johnny took a sudden interest in his shoelaces, then sort of shuffled his shoes around in the dust for a moment, and then said, “Ah, it’s nothing. He’s a great kid and I don’t have a little brother to teach stuff to, so it’s fun for me.”

“Look, I’d better get home too” Susie said, “I’ll see you on Saturday at the picnic. Thanks again!” With that, Susie turned and ran off in an effort to catch up with Stanley and then walk the last block home together. Johnny sat down on the picnic table again and watched her walk away.

Johnny’s began to talk to himself “That sure is a special family. There is something about them that I don’t quite understand; something about them that I would like to have. I’m just not sure what it is.” And with that, Johnny turned and headed toward his own home.

Susie Gets Saved – Part 5 – Conclusion

Andrea looked up at Mrs. Johnson with swollen, watery eyes that were just beginning to trickle down her little face and said, “Oh yes! Mrs. Johnson, I would like that VERY much. I know that I am a sinner too and I need to be forgiven and I want Him to help me now. Life is so hard sometimes I just can’t stand it and I really want to trust Him as my saviour. But, I need to know. Can Jesus save me, right now?”

Mrs. Johnson wiped away a few tears of her own and said, “Yes, He can save both of you. That’s why He died; to save us from our sins and to go to live with Him forever in Heaven when we die. But how do we really know, Mrs. Johnson. Can we really know that God will save us?” Andrea said.

Picking up her Bible, Mrs. Johnson said, “Here’s a verse that may help you. It’s in the book of Acts, chapter 2, verse 21. It says ‘And anyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’ That means anyone. The apostle Peter is speaking here to a crowd of people in Jerusalem shortly after Jesus went back to heaven. Many of these people may have been the same ones in the crowd that night that chanted ‘Crucify Him!’ If this verse applies to the people that helped to crucify Jesus with their words, it also applies to us whose sins caused Him to be crucified. The Bible also says ‘For all have sinned; all fall short…’ that is in the Apostle Paul’s letter to the Romans chapter 3, verse 23. So you see, all of us are sinners. None of us really deserves to be forgiven or saved, but He offers it freely to us all. So, when it says that anyone can call on His name and be saved, He really means it and we have to really mean it too. Do you want to trust Him as your saviour…Andrea…Susie?”

Mrs. Johnson looked at each one of them right in the eyes. It was as though she were searching their hearts by looking at their eyes deeply. They each felt that and searched their hearts. It was very quiet for several moments.

Susie spoke first. “Mom, you know that I have believed since I was very little. I just never really asked to be saved before. But, I want to ask Him to save me now, more than anything.”

“Me, too” said Andrea. “I have been thinking about it a lot since we have been coming to your church and learning about Jesus. I know that my Mom thinks about it too. I can see it in her eyes when we listen to the Pastor Johnson’s sermons.”

Would you both like to pray with me right now?” Both girls looked at each other and then at Mrs. Johnson and said together, “YES!”

“And, so would I”, said a familiar voice from the back door. It was Lisa, Andrea’s mother. She had come over to check on Andrea and to talk to Mrs. Johnson about her own heart. She had arrived just as Susie began to explain her predicament. She stood there quietly, unnoticed, listening to Susie’s story and Mrs. Johnson’s questions and explanation. She had come with her own need and so, when the question was asked, she responded too.

Mrs. Johnson stood up quickly and asked Lisa to come in and have a seat at the table too. She then sat down and looked at everyone and said, “What a glorious moment this is going to be in heaven. It says in the Gospel of Luke, chapter 15, verse 10 that ‘the angels of God rejoice over one sinner who repents.’ And here are three of you.”

She paused to wipe away her own tears and then continued, “Pray with me please.” Each of them bowed their heads and their hands found the hands of those around them. Smiles appeared on all their faces. Mrs. Johnson spoke, “Please repeat after me, Lord Jesus, I know that I am a sinner. I need the salvation that you provided for me by dying on the cross. Lord Jesus, I believe that you are the Son of God. I ask that you forgive all of my sins and come into my life and become my Lord. Take my life Lord, save me and be the Lord of my life. Amen.”

After that, there was hugging and happy tears and talking and everyone forgot about the milk and cookies. After two girls hugged each other and their mothers, they took their milk and cookies and went outside to eat and talk. They would always know that they shared something very special that day and that it would last forever.

Susie now, also had a very special surprise for Gram and Grandpa.

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I hope you all enjoyed this story. I have others to post and will do so soon.

Susie Gets Saved – Part 4

Andrea looked her in the eye and asked, “Does just going to church count as knowing Jesus Susie?”

“I’m not sure, I mean, I don’t think so, I just…just…” Susie stammered.

“Well…maybe we should go and ask your Mom, Susie. She would probably know.”

Susie’s face lit up and she said, “That’s a great idea, Andrea. Let’s go ask right now.” The two girls then raced down the stairs and arrived in the kitchen breathlessly.

Mrs. Johnson had almost completed the weaving of a second pie crust and was just taking another tray of cookies out of the oven and carefully moving them to a cooling rack when the two girls burst into the kitchen.

“Mom, can I ask a really important question,” Susie blurted out.

Mrs. Johnson turned and looked at the two girls and said, “Sure Susie. Do you girls want to sample a fresh cookie while we talk about whatever it is that is on your minds?”

The two girls looked and each other and then back at Mrs. Johnson and said simultaneously, “Yes!!”

They both scrambled to get a couple of small plates, glasses, some milk and then sat down at the table all as if in one motion. Mrs. Johnson had to consciously hold back her own little giggle as she watched the girls in their eagerness. They were two beautiful little girls, she thought. What a wonderful gift it is from God to be able to be a part of their lives. This was one of those moments when she just knew that being a Mom was also a great gift from God.

She sent a quick, silent thank you heavenward and said, “Here are your cookies girls, let me sit down and join you for a few minutes. Now, what was it you want to ask Susie?”

Susie looked her mom in the eye and asked, “When did I get saved, Mom? Andrea just asked me and I couldn’t answer her. I know all about Jesus, I have been going to church my whole life, but, I can’t remember ever really asking Him to come into my heart and be my saviour. I think that I just thought I did and never really thought about it until just now. What do you think?”

Mrs. Johnson took a deep breath and looked at Susie. She reached over and brushed her hair out of her eager little face and said, “Susie, darling, I have been waiting a long time for you to ask me this question. We really did talk about it several times when you were very little and you probably don’t remember. It was when you were two or three. You told me then that you wanted to go to heaven when you die and wanted Jesus to be your friend, but I knew that someday you would want to talk about it again when you were more grown up. I think that now might be that time. Why are you asking?”

Susie looked at Andrea and then with a deep breath said, “Andrea and I were talking about why Gram Susie and Grampa Johnny went to Africa to tell people about Jesus and why we have special meetings and invite people in the neighborhood to come to church to hear Dad tell them about Jesus and then Andrea asked me when I had asked Jesus to live in my heart and I couldn’t remember.” Susie paused for just a second and said, “Mom, am I going to heaven?” Mrs. Johnson, looked at her daughter and asked, “Do you want to Susie? Do you know that Jesus is the Son of God and died to forgive your sins? Do you want Jesus to come and live in your heart and forgive all of your sins? Do you want to live for him always?”

Susie looked at her mother and nodded her head. She then said, with a tear in her eye, “Yes, Mommy, I know that I am a sinner and I know that Jesus died for my sins and I want Him to save me more than anything else in the whole wide world.”

Mrs. Johnson looked at Andrea for a moment and said to her, “Andrea, dear, what about you? You and your mother have been coming to our church for some time now. Do you know that Jesus is the Son of God and that He died for your sins too? Do you want to trust Jesus as your saviour? Do you want to have Him forgive all your sins and go to heaven to live with Him when you die? Do you want Him to become your best friend and have Him help you live in a better way? I know that things have not been very easy for you since your father left. Jesus can help you with those struggles. He WANTS to heal that hurt in your heart and help you with those struggles. Would you like that, Andrea?”

 

Susie Gets Saved – Part 3

I have been missing in action this last week. I took some time get away for a little while. But, now I am back…here is part 3 in the story. I hope you enjoy it.

# # #

Just a few blocks away, Lisa Miller looks around the small house that she and Andrea share and starts to think about how life has changed for them since her husband left them and moved away. Life is a lot harder now, but, she is grateful for her daughter and the new church family at Grace Neighborhood Church. They don’t attend every Sunday, but when they do go, people seem to go out of their way to make them feel at home there. She is especially glad for the time that Mrs. Johnson, the pastor’s wife, takes to talk to her and to encourage her and tell her about the difference that Jesus could make in her life. Lisa and little Susie have hit it off and are spending a lot of time together too.

She remembers the things that Mrs. Johnson has told her about how Jesus has love enough for everyone. How anxious He is to forgive us for what we have done wrong and to help set us up on the right path. Her heart aches so badly sometimes, she knows that she needs something to change in her life and her heart. She is just not sure that Jesus is what she needs. The tears well up in her eyes again and begin to roll slowly down her cheeks. She sits in her favorite window seat and cries her heart out, again.  But, this time, she also turns her heart to thoughts of Jesus and wonders if He really can heal the hurts so deep in her heart and soul. A peace that she has never felt before begins to embrace her. Somehow she knows that Jesus is answering her question. She pulls her legs up to her chest and hugs them with her arms and let’s go of all of her hurts and fears. And, she smiles through her tears. She knows what she must do.

Susie and Andrea were getting busy dusting the guest room. Andrea was dusting the photos that sat in frames on the dresser. She paused to look at them and then spoke to Susie. “Susie, are these pictures of your Gram and Grandpa? There is one here that looks just like you.”

Susie giggled and said, “Oh yes, that’s my Gram Susie when she was about my age and lived in Millville. Great Grampa was in charge of a saw mill there after they moved up from Texas. Lot’s people think that is me. Grampa Johnny says that I’m the spittin’ image of her.” Susie giggled again and pointed out some of the other pictures on the dresser. “Here’s one of Grampa Johnny hugging Gram Susie after she got rescued from the kidnappers. That’s one of my favorites”

Andrea blurted out, “She was kidnapped? What happened?”

Well, Susie loved telling stories about her namesake and told Andrea all about it, she said. “One day Gram Susie and Uncle Johnny were walking and two men drove up in a car and took Gram Susie and held her for ransom. Ten thousand dollars!! Grampa Johnny and the sheriff (and everyone else in Millville) looked and looked until they found Susie in the kidnapper’s hideout in the swamp. Gram Susie was a missionary even then. She kept telling the robbers about Jesus until one of them prayed with her and trusted Jesus as his saviour. Finally, Grampa Johnny and the sheriff captured the kidnappers and took them to jail. There’s a lot more to it than that, but, Grampa Johnny is the one that tells the rest of it best. He was there, after all.”

“Here’s their wedding picture. They both look so happy!”

Andrea looked away and held her breath for just a moment, then looked back again.

“What’s this one?” she asked.

“Oh, that’s them when they took off on a big ship for Africa. They went there to tell the natives about Jesus. Here’s one of their home there. They lived there for about 30 years. That’s where my Mom grew up and met my Dad. His parents were missionaries there too.”

“Wow! Why do people go over there to be missionaries Susie? Doesn’t everyone know about Jesus already?”

“Oh, no, Andrea, some have never heard about Him at all. I’ve been going to church all my life so I have known about Him for my whole life. But, other people like the natives in Africa didn’t know about Him at all. Someone had to go and tell them so that they could learn about Him and ask Him to come and live in their hearts. Some people, even people right here in Crescent City don’t really know about Him either. That’s why we have special meetings at the church sometimes and we invite everyone in the neighborhood. I’m really glad that you and your Mom have started to come to church over the last few months. I’m hoping that you will ask Jesus into your heart too.”

Andrea stood there and looked at Susie for just a moment and then said, “When did you ask Jesus into your heart Susie. How did it happen?”

Susie stopped and thought for just a moment and then a surprised look came over her pretty little face. She screwed it up and wrinkled her nose and looked up at the ceiling for another moment and said, “You know, Andrea. I can’t remember when I did it. It must have been when I was VERY young. I have been going to church my WHOLE life.”

 

Susie Gets Saved – Part 2

Suddenly there was a loud THUNK from the back porch and a small whirlwind passed quickly through the kitchen, down the hall and up the stairs.

Susie looked up at her Mother and said “There goes Stanley back upstairs. I better make sure that he is going to play in his own room and not the guest room. I don’t want to clean up any more than I have to.”

“Ok, Susie, thank you again for being such a big help. I really am proud of you.”

“Thanks, Mom!” she said as she rushed up the stairs to catch up with her brother. Just then there was a knock at the back door, Mrs. Johnson walked over and opened it up to find Andrea standing there. “Hi Andrea, come on in! Susie is upstairs in the guest room.”

“Thanks, Mrs. Johnson. Wow, it sure smells good in here. Susie said that you were making cookies, but I see a pie too. Is that a cherry pie I see?”

“Yes it is Andrea; you have got pretty sharp eyes!” Mrs. Johnson remarked.

Andrea took another deep whiff of the aromas in the kitchen. “My mom used to bake a lot, but doesn’t much anymore since my dad moved away. But, I still remember the smell from then.” There was quiet for just a moment. Andrea took a big breath and said, “I’ll just go upstairs now, see you later Mrs. Johnson!” And off she went down the hall and up the stairs. You could hear the two girls greet each other excitedly.

Mrs. Johnson took just a moment to pray for Andrea and her mother. Life had been hard for them since her father divorced her mom and moved away with his girlfriend. Andrea had taken it very hard and her mother Lisa had been struggling to keep up the rent and the bills on their small apartment. “Lord, please keep a close watch on Lisa and Andrea. They are sweet people and have been coming to church off and on since the divorce. Please help them to come to know you. I pray in Jesus name, Amen.”  Mrs. Johnson made one mental note to talk to Susie to see if she knew if Andrea had accepted Jesus as her saviour and another to make time to talk to Lisa about the same thing and then got busy interweaving the top crust on the cherry pie while the 2nd tray of cookies was baking in the oven.